AUSTIN, Texas - Twenty-three steps from one of the dugouts at the Balcones Youth Sports Complex marks the entrance of a homeless encampment.
Sunday afternoon open flames and dogs off-leash roaming onto the property from the encampment were all seen as FOX 7 walked the fields with Jonathan Stilley, director of sponsorships for Balcones Youth Sports.
Stilley says they have contacted the City of Austin, APD, 311, animal control, city council and other resources to try and have this problem resolved. ‘Now the answer that we’re getting is that we don’t have the staff to deal with that," he said.
Stilley said the concern for safety is paramount. He said that an encampment like that shouldn't be allowed to be so close to any type of place where children play or hang out, adding if something doesn't change it’s only a matter of time before something bad could happen.
"Quite honestly the fact that we haven’t had some dangerous encounter with a person or an animal that has turned into a police report is surprising to us," Stilley said.
FOX 7 reached out to the City for comment, but as of Sunday, the City has not responded.
The complex is a nonprofit organization and everyone who works there is a volunteer. Stilley says during a Saturday there can be upwards of 500 people during the fall and more during the spring. He says that he doesn’t want what is happening behind the field to be a deterrent to get kids on the field and playing the sport.
"This is not an unsafe place," Stilley said. "There are just situations that have now been created by the lack of enforcement by the city that are now making certain time slots and certain things dangerous, period."
Stilley said the responsibility now falls on the volunteers and coaches. "We don’t know what we’re going to find so we have to show up earlier and earlier to make sure it’s a safe environment for the kids."
For more information on Balcones Youth Sports, visit their website.